Jul 9, 2020 - Health

Utah governor mandates face masks in public schools this fall

Students cleaning a classroom in March in Provo, Utah.

Students cleaning a classroom in March in Provo, Utah. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) issued a public school face mask mandate on Thursday for all K-12 students, faculty, staff and visitors for the fall term to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: States across the U.S. are currently wrestling with how to get kids back to school this coming academic year amid increasing COVID-19 caseloads and strained budgets.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all school staff wear masks and students stay six feet apart at all times.

What they're saying: "Some flexibility will be given to school boards and principals to accommodate younger children, and we call on those local leaders to use common sense in the flexibility they use," Herbert wrote on Twitter.

  • "I believe in you, Utah. So let us all wash our hands, wear our masks, and put our shoulder to the wheel to get this done."

The big picture: Herbert said the state reported 722 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, its highest single-day increase so far.

  • He added that Utah's seven-day average was 576 cases daily as of Wednesday. He challenged the state to reduce its average to fewer than 500 new cases by August 1.

Go deeper: The coming political brawl over reopening schools

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